The Great American Conference and its member institutions announced Friday a plan to delay the start of all intercollegiate competition until September 29. Athletics practices begin August 31.

The GAC office and the Conference Council of Presidents will continue to monitor the plan and adjust it when necessary in order to protect the health and safety of all involved at GAC institutions.

Teams will play current GAC schedule grids when play resumes in late September. The GAC will formulate a plan to reschedule those games not played on the existing schedule – as well as the format for fall conference postseason events – following NCAA Division II action on the status of Fall championships.

“This plan creates additional time to craft a safe and meaningful championship season for our student-athletes,” GAC Commissioner Will Prewitt said. “It affords our members the ability to open their campuses for in-person learning and allows additional time for student-athletes to acclimate back to full athletic activity.”

The plan will allow member universities to continue to monitor the COVID-19 Global Pandemic and to make decisions about athletics and other campus activities based on the conditions in that community with guidance from local and state health officials.

The continued increase of COVID-19 cases across many portions of the league’s geographic footprint and southern regions of the country played a significant role in the decision.

“The opportunity to provide a competitive season for our fall student-athletes has been a priority,” said UAM Director of Athletics Padraic McMeel. “However, the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, campus and community is priority one. The situation is so fluid – this adjustment in the schedule provides more time to monitor and gather the most up-to-date information and make the most appropriate decisions.”

The Council has the ability to adjust its recommendation as necessary to protect the health and safety of all involved in GAC athletics. Conference administrators and the Council of Presidents will both meet weekly to address developments as they arise.

“I am grateful that the GAC shares our focus on community health,” said UAM Chancellor Peggy Doss. “Our coaches, staff and student-athletes have exhibited unmatched positive attitudes during a time of uncertain plans for their seasons. Their flexibility and willingness to move forward has been an exceptional example for all of us.”